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The Composer is Dead

by Lemony Snicket and Music by Nathaniel Stookey
Illustrated by Carson Ellis

Published by HarperCollins, 2009
40 pages
ISBN: 978-0061236273

Ages 8-15

Podcast featuring this book

With characteristic cleverness and sly wit, author Lemony Snicket examines the instruments in the orchestra in an informative and investigative way. A musical murder-mystery, The Composer Is Dead offers a symphony of satire and pitch-perfect humor. From the opening page, readers learn that the Composer is dead. “He was not humming. He was not moving, or even breathing.” A pen and watercolor illustration shows a fancy-dressed, white curly wig-wearing man facedown in score of scores while flies buzz overhead. Turning the page, the author explains, “This is called decomposing.” Wry and outrageous observations abound as a finger-pointing Inspector interrogates the instruments about the Composer’s murder. Questioning the Cellos and Basses, he surmises their anger over playing boring compositions. “’On the contrary,’ the Cellos and Basses said. ‘We don’t feel the need to show off like certain stringed instruments we could mention.’” Amusing personifications provide a façade for an introductory lesson on who’s who (and whodunit) in the orchestra. An accompanying CD offers a musical narration a la Peter and the Wolf. A work of genius and hilarity for old and young.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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